Bhutan has reopened its borders to international tourists with a hefty rise in the kingdom’s sustainable development fee.
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Bhutan's higher sustainable development fee draws mixed reactions.
The fee will rise from US$65 to US$200 per person per night, as Bhutan resets post-pandemic to regain its high-value, low-volume tourism reputation.
Bhutan has vowed to enhance the quality of guest services, “whether that be the cleanliness and accessibility of infrastructure, by limiting the number of cars on our roads, or by limiting the number of people who visit our sacred sites”.
Dr. Lotay Tshering, the prime minister of Bhutan, said the kingdom’s policy of high-value, low-volume tourism has existed since Bhutan began welcoming guests to our country in 1974. “But its intent and spirit were watered down over the years, without us even realising it,” the PM added.
“Therefore, we are reminding ourselves about the essence of the policy, the values and merits that have defined us for generations.”
The prime minister said that typically, ‘high value’ is understood as exclusive high-end products and extravagant recreation facilities, “but that wasn’t Bhutan, and the aim of the sustainable development fee was to reinvest the proceeds in the future of the people of Bhutan”.
“While those working in the tourism sector will represent us at the forefront, the entire nation is the tourism industry, and every Bhutanese a host.
“The minimum fee we are asking our friends to pay is to be reinvested in ourselves, the place of our meeting, which will be our shared asset for generations,” Dr. Lotay added.